If you are wrongfully imprisoned, you may be able to sue for wrongful imprisonment in California. Ultimately, a court could award you monetary compensation for the emotional and physical effects of your ordeal.
Being “thrown in jail” is a scary concept. Being thrown in jail when you did not do anything wrong can also be demeaning and infuriating, and it can have life-changing consequences, even if you are released.
What Is Wrongful Imprisonment?
Wrongful imprisonment, or false imprisonment, is the act of deliberately taking away a person’s liberty without being legally allowed or justified to do so. A person can be stripped of their freedom by force, physical barriers (like a jail cell), threats, or through being tricked (deceit or fraud).
A false arrest is also a form of wrongful imprisonment. If arrested by an officer of the law without a warrant, you may be able to sue for false arrest. You may also be able to sue for false arrest if you were detained by a private citizen who did not have a legitimate reason to make a citizen’s arrest.
California does not recognize false arrest and false imprisonment as two separate claims. False arrest is instead considered a more specific way of saying “false imprisonment.” Therefore, if you have a claim for false arrest, it would be filed with the court as “false imprisonment” in California.
If you have any other questions about your case, our firm can assist you.
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I’m Not Certain If I Was Wrongfully Imprisoned. What Should I Do?
If you think you’ve been wrongfully imprisoned, an attorney from our firm can review your case today. We can:
- Speak with you about the facts of your case, learning why you believe you may have been detained unlawfully
- Review any public records related to your arrest
- Explain whether we believe you’re the victim of wrongful imprisonment
- Explain your options for seeking justice for false imprisonment in California
Critically, we will also ensure that no public or private official violates your rights. As the victim of false imprisonment, you’ve already suffered the consequences of rights violations. We’ll protect you going forward.
If you know that you’ve suffered wrongful imprisonment, hiring an attorney may also be your next step.
What If the Arresting Officer Has a Warrant?
Wrongful imprisonment can occur even if the officer had a warrant before arrest. For example, a warrant resulting from a fraudulent claim made by an officer can lead to an illegitimate arrest.
While it may be more difficult to prove false imprisonment when an officer has a warrant, it may be possible.
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Can You Be Falsely Arrested by a Peace Officer?
Yes. In California, any peace officer has the right to make an arrest. However, making a false arrest can have serious repercussions. A peace officer may include:
- A park ranger
- A correctional officer
- A transit officer
- A fire marshal
- A welfare fraud investigator
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How Can a Private Citizen Be Guilty of Wrongful Imprisonment?
In the state of California, a private citizen has the right to make a citizen’s arrest. A citizen’s arrest occurs when a private citizen either restrains a perpetrator until the police arrive or calls for an officer, leading to the perpetrator’s arrest.
A citizen’s arrest is lawful if the private citizen can prove that the perpetrator either committed a crime or was about to commit a crime. If a merchant suspects someone of shoplifting, for example, they have the right to restrain the perpetrator until the police arrive.
In this example, the merchant may be guilty of wrongful imprisonment if they were unreasonable in detaining the suspected shoplifter. This would mean arresting someone who never gave the merchant a credible reason to believe they stole anything nor were about to steal something.
What Are Your Options If You Have Been Wrongfully Arrested?
As the victim of wrongful imprisonment in California, you may generally:
File a Complaint Against the Arresting Officer with the Police Department
If you believe the officer’s actions in arresting you were unlawful, you can make a complaint, demanding they face repercussions. The officer could face suspension, mandatory retraining, reassignment, or other consequences. In extreme cases, the officer may lose their job or even face criminal charges.
File a Motion to Exclude Any Evidence Obtained as a Result of the Arrest
If you were charged with a crime, you can file a motion to suppress any evidence that was obtained because of the false arrest. Any evidence discovered because of the unlawful arrest may be disregarded.
File a Lawsuit Against the Officer and Department for Civil Rights Violations
You have the right to file a lawsuit against an arresting officer and police department for a civil rights violation. Our attorneys can discuss the merits of a lawsuit.
If you can sue for wrongful imprisonment in California and win your case, the court may order an injunction. This injunction could require the department to retrain officers, change their arresting policies, or fire the arresting officer.
Sue the Arresting Officer and Department, Demanding Monetary Damages
A lawsuit against the department and arresting officer may also result in monetary compensation. You have the right to make claims for a variety of damages that you may have suffered because of your wrongful imprisonment, including:
- Medical costs
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Civil rights violations
Municipalities often have significant legal resources on their side. They may also have legal protections that the average citizen does not. An experienced attorney can help you fight for the monetary damages you may be entitled to.
How Can a Lawyer Help with a Case of Wrongful Imprisonment?
An attorney from our firm will seek a dismissal or reduction of the charges against you if your criminal case is ongoing. We may also take civil action to obtain justice for your wrongful imprisonment.
Our firm employs lawyers capable of handling both criminal and civil cases. This means that we can:
- Obtain all existing records related to your arrest
- Obtain all relevant witness accounts
- Gather evidence of improper conduct by law enforcement officers
- Gather any evidence that suggests you’re not guilty of the charges filed against you
- Develop a strategy for your civil case
- File a lawsuit and all other necessary paperwork
- Determine the cost of your damages
- Complete settlement negotiations
- Take your civil case to trial, if necessary
Cases of wrongful imprisonment are unique and often complex. Rather than only needing a criminal defense or only completing a lawsuit, you may need to do both. Our firm can handle the entire criminal and civil processes for you.
What Makes Our Firm Qualified to Handle Your Wrongful Imprisonment Case?
The priority in your case may be clearing any pending criminal charges. Our team handles a variety of criminal defense cases. Regardless of which types of charges you face, we will seek an outcome that preserves your reputation and future.
We serve communities throughout California, and we understand both criminal and civil codes in the state. Once we have resolved your criminal matter, we will fix our sights on securing an appropriate civil outcome.
You may choose our firm for your case(s) because:
- You want a lawyer who can handle both the criminal and civil aspects of your case
- Client service is a key pillar of our firm
- We treat each client like family
- We make every decision with our client’s best interests in mind
- We hire experts, pay for exhibits, tests, and reports, and take every other necessary step to present the strongest case that we can
When it comes to criminal charges, you deserve a law firm with an established reputation for fighting for clients. This is precisely what we offer.
When Can You Sue for Wrongful Imprisonment?
You may be able to sue for wrongful imprisonment if you are innocent of the crime you were charged with or there was no reason to suspect you of the crime. You could be entitled to additional damages if you were injured during the arrest or restrained for an unreasonable amount of time.
If you are unsure whether you have a case for wrongful imprisonment in California, you can call Simmrin Law Group to learn more about your rights under the law.